From Stillwater-Ponca City (OK) Ostomy Outlook April 1997:
Things I Have Learned from my Ileostomy
by Ruby Lingelbach, summarized from presentation to
Stillwater-Ponca City (OK) UOA Chapter Meeting, 17 March 1997
My ulcerative colitis was diagnosed in 1952 after my second child was
born. I was seriously ill for quite a long time. It was a hard time for
me, as well as for Dan, who had extra responsibilities in addition to his
regular teaching load. By the time we moved to Stillwater the disease was
reasonably stabilized, but never completely subdued. Dr. Honska had
Elizabeth Firebaugh come to visit me before my surgery on May 12, 1977.
Advantages of an ostomy:
The biggest advantage of having my ileostomy is that I am alive.
Otherwise, I would have died in 1977. Secondly, I will never have
diverticulitis... That is a problem in the colon and ileostomates do not
have a colon. A 3rd advantage is that I do not have the worry of "Will I
be able to hold this gas until I'm out of this crowd?" Ostomates pass gas
like "normal" people, but it is contained in the pouch and can be let out
at more discreet times. Another advantage recently discovered at one of
our support-group meetings is that I can put drops into the pouch to
lessen the odor--Wouldn't it be great if all "normal" people could do the
Another advantage is that I do not have to make a dash for the bushes
when out on a rock hunting field trip. I have seen "normal" people do
this more than once, and I can remember the misery of having to do so,
and a time or two on a family picnic of not quite making it when I was
the sickest. I do have to empty my pouch once in a while out on field
trips... but it is not necessary to completely take one's clothes down.
The pouch can simply be pulled out through an opened zipper and emptied.
Yet another advantage is that ileostomates do not have the colon to
harbor the intestinal virus. A stomach virus is cause for concern,
- I would not be happy wearing a bikini bathing suit... but I didn't
wear one before my surgery anyway. I can wear tight clothing, but do not
care for really tight things. This is more for the comfort than a
- A real hazard to ileostomates is the danger of dehydration, so
plenty of water must be taken along on any kind of outing.
- Ileostomates get no advantage from taking time-release medications.
The medicine is out before it gets to most of the "time-release."
Things I have learned:
- The first thing an ostomate learns is a new vocabulary.
Peristalsis is the wave-like movement of constriction and
relaxation which propels materials along the digestive tract. Normally it
moves easily and gently, but if a blockage occurs the movements are
greater as the intestine desperately tries to get material moved along. In
the fortunate incidence of material being freed on its own without
hospitalization, expulsion is quite forceful. It is easy to understand why
anybody with a blockage, or appendicitis, for instance, is in a lot of
- I can see what I have eaten. Some ostomates do not like to see that,
but I watched for blood in my stools too long to stop. Some peas and corn
can come through whole, banana seeds are about 1/2 inch long, and
blackberry seeds come through as blackberry seeds. Beets give a reddish
purple tint to the pouch contents, and grape juice makes it so dark purple
that it looks like "old" blood. Artificial colors come right on through
with all their artificial brightness. The reds and yellows are OK, but a
bright green from Lime coolade or jello is shocking on first sight.
- The ileostomate can easily see how fast food runs through, and that
different foods do not mix together completely in the digestive tract.
Many times there is a clear demarcation between the different colors in
food. And when food is put in, it tends to push food out the other end.
- An ileostomate can see that digestive juices are a dark
brownish/greenish color, and that it is heavy. Pouch contents after
breakfast are generally nothing but the digestive juices.
- Ileostomates learn that the best time to change pouches is about an
hour after eating, or before eating breakfast. Each ostomate has his/her
own preferences, but I ordinarily change mine before bedtime to give the
Stomahesive time to get set good without any type of clothing pressing
on the area to be sealed.
My first prosthesis had a karaya ring but I developed an allergy to
karaya, so I am now wearing the Active Life convex Durahesive ring by
ConvaTec. It is expensive, but it stays on for 8 to 10 days in
comparison to the 1-2 days for the karaya for me. I put Skin Prep on my
skin for protection, and add a ring of Stomahesive Paste or Strip around
the opening for added security. Ileostomates wear an open-ended pouch
that has a special clip to seal it.
My ostomy has given me a life I never could have had without it.
Before the surgery I discovered that when a person has only half enough
blood and half enough red cells, that the slightest little something
could be a major something. Even a simple headache became a
"blockbuster," and there wasn't enough energy to do much or think much.
Now I can do anything I can fit into a busy schedule--ride a bike, swim,
walk, climb mountains, or pack in more rocks than are needed. I have a
good full life that I could never have had without the surgery.
Back to Stillwater-Ponca City UOA Newsletter Index
This page is maintained by the
Content last revised